DOJ Charges Community Bank with Discriminatory Pricing of Unsecured Consumer Loans

On February 19, the DOJ announced a settlement with a $338 million Texas community bank to resolve allegations that the bank engaged in a pattern or practice of pricing discrimination on the basis of national origin. Specifically, the DOJ alleged, based on its own investigation and an examination conducted by the FDIC, the bank violated ECOA by charging Hispanic borrowers higher interest rates on unsecured consumer loans compared to the rates charged to similarly situated white borrowers. The consent order requires the bank to establish a $700,000 fund to compensate borrowers who may have suffered harm as a result of the alleged ECOA violations. It also requires that the bank (i) establish uniform pricing policies, (ii) create a compliance monitoring program, (iii) provide borrower notices of non-discrimination, and (iv) conduct employee training. The new requirements apply not only to unsecured consumer loans, but also to all residential single-family real estate construction financing, automobile financing, home improvement loans, and mortgage loans.